The importance of keeping things simple as a way of managing workload and distraction was emphasized by a number of faculty.
- Focus on what’s most essential: Plan on covering only the most essential parts of the course so that you can build in regular check-ins, breaks or less-intensive weeks when everyone can regroup. For particular ideas about how to check in with your students, see the “Connection” section of this report.
- Identify core technologies: Decide on a few key technologies or features you want to use to support student learning in your courses and let go of the rest. This can minimize distractions and the stress of technological learning curves for you and your students.
In-Person: Full Class
- Substitute “engagement” for “participation” in your grading structure to make sure students stay home if they are under the weather and to reduce the grading load. Grade small, asynchronous assignments on a ✓-, ✓, ✓+ scale and combine that with student self-assessments to tally the final “engagement” grade.
- Have in-person students “host” remote students: Assign a student who is in the classroom to “host” any isolating/quarantining students on Zoom and task that person with signing into Zoom, making sure classmates are brought into discussion by keeping an eye on the chat.
- Have students take a more active role in class: To provide you more time to focus on other areas and students a chance to synthesize material, invite students to take a more active role in class, like having them write exam questions and comment on one another’s, or have them generate the discussion questions for the class period.
In-Person: Alternating Groups
- Use consistent small groups for different aspects of the course: communicating who should attend on which days, breakout room activities, final projects, etc.
- Have in-person students “host” remote students: Pair every student with a peer “buddy” from the other group. Each class period, in-person and remote students get on Zoom and the in-person student is responsible for communicating with and raising questions in the classroom from their remote “buddy.”
- Use the “flipscotch” method or ask students to engage with content asynchronously and then cover that topic with each group of in-person students instead of bringing in students to participate via Zoom.
- “Flipscotch” for longer seminars: Split the class period in half and meet with in-person students for the first half and remote students for the second half to reduce the distraction for everyone.
- Limit technology: If students are participating via Zoom, keep the rest of the technology simple (Powerpoint, Google Docs, video) to minimize the number of things you have to keep track of during class and lower the risk of glitches for students.
- Limit time on Zoom: Whenever possible, keep synchronous sessions to an hour or under.
- Leverage Zoom features: Use the features already within Zoom — chat, polls, breakout rooms — to facilitate student participation without bringing in too many additional platforms.
- Allow students to determine class content: Put students in breakout rooms at the beginning of the session to summarize key points from the reading and come up with questions they would like to discuss with the group. Bring everyone back, and use those questions to guide the discussion.
- Plan for simple, asynchronous opportunities: Add in asynchronous weeks to the calendar when students review material.
- Identify top priorities: Be realistic about what you’ll be able to sustain through the semester, and focus on those course components that will have the greatest impact.